north-gate-hall-courtyard-reception-grayscale student-reporters orientation-2012 student-camera-focus

Course Curriculum

J102 The Wire: When Journalism Meets Drama

Location Time Instuctor(s) CCN Section Units Fee Enrollment
3111 Ectheverry TTH 11:00-12:30 Bill Drummond 48038 1 3 No 40

The goal of the class is to make students aware of how the issues of crime, policing and identity are framed and mediated through television, as well as through conventional journalism.

Since the days of the pioneering Dragnet TV series, America’s impressions of law enforcement have been profoundly influenced and framed by what was popular on television. The five seasons of the HBO series The Wire reflect a new and pessimistic view of the police and community. The violence, corruption and moral ambiguity are a far cry from the days of the virtuous, tight-lipped Joe Friday and the incorruptible centurions of the LAPD.

The class will explore the relationship between real crime, popular fiction and television, specifically The Wire. The class will examine how The Wire established a new cultural narrative about life for the ethnically diverse residents of the decaying centers of America’s post-industrial cities and their relationship with the largely white law enforcement and criminal justice bureaucracy that plays such a commanding role in their lives. The class will contrast the Baltimore story line with two other urban settings with different racial and cultural profiles, namely Miami/Dade and Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston.

David Simon, the creator of The Wire series, began life as a police reporter for the Baltimore Sun. Before he became famous for his television work, he published an excellent non-fiction book about police work in Baltimore (“A Year on the Killing Streets”). His real-life experiences paved the way for his initial successful series, “Homicide: Life on the Street,” and eventually the acclaimed series The Wire.

Restrictions and Prerequisites:

Return to Course Schedule